“Father, Forgive Them”

Luke 23

Two other men, both criminals were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with two criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the chosen One.”            Luke 23:32-35

The seven times Jesus spoke on the cross are like seven windows that gave us insight into the mind and heart or our dying Savior. In the first three, our Savior elaborates on the love in His heart for His enemies, the two thieves on the cross and also His mother Mary. 

Today, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we reflect on these words, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. The crucifixion was a brutal act that was not only accompanied by humiliation and scorn, but also by terrible suffering. In those moments of Jesus’ deepest agony, Christ speaks not a curse but a prayer, not a prayer of vengeance, but of sympathy and forgiveness. It is unbelievable by true.!

However, Jesus has a haven amid his suffering: His Father. His Father is also our Father. In our worst grief we can pray to Him. Jesus prays a prayer of compassion. “They don’t know what they are doing!” Jesus prays for others, not for himself. He makes excuses for them rather than condemning them. He preached it, now He was doing it. It was a test of discipleship. He loves us until the very end. His prayer includes everybody: “Father, Forgive them.: And to this day, Jesus intercedes for us. We learn to receive and grant forgiveness at the cross.

Dear Jesus, by your wounds we are healed, thank you for your great sacrificed in our place and your forgiveness of our sins even when we don’t deserve it. Help us to forgive others the way you have forgiven me.                       Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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Sorrow Becomes Joy

 

 

 

 

John 16a

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me, and ‘Because I am going to the Father? “What does he mean by a little while? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jesus was looking beyond the present century to the new period that would come. He used an image that was deeply rooted in the Jewish mind. they believed that all time was divided into two parts, the present time and the time to come. The present was altogether bad and subject to damnation. The time that would be the Golden Age-the time of God. The time in between was called the time of the Messiah.

Jesus knew the Scriptures and He knew about these images, he said to his disciples, “I am leaving you now, but I will come back when My kingdom comes and I start to rule. Before this, however, you will have to suffer hard times.” Jesus went ahead to outline all that the Christian would have to endure. There would be times when Christians would experience sorrow, but their sorrow would be changed to joy. And the day would come for a turnabout. The world’s reckless joy would change to sorrow, and the Christians’ apparent sorrow would change to hoy. Christians should always remember  this when their faith is costing them.

There are two exceptional things about Christian joy: First, it can never be taken away because it is rooted in God. For this reason, this joy will be complete, while there is always something missing in the pleasure the world knows. Second, the sorrow that went before Christian joy is forgotten like a mother forgets labor pains, like the martyr forgets their suffering in the glory of heaven.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

The Great Discovery

John 4 16.png“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samarians  worship what you do not know, we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. The woman said, “I know that the Messiah (called Christ)” is coming. When he comes he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you–I am he,”     John 4:21-26

A sobering revelation now dawns on the woman at the well: It was quite possible to be in contact with the Lord for years and still not made the Great Discovery. For example, Job thought he was a godly man because he could defend God and his faith. Then God revealed Himself to Job and he confessed, “I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen You with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:5-6) When Isaiah saw God in the Temple, his reaction was, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!” (Isaiah 6:5)

This type of meeting not only makes us aware of our own weaknesses, but also of our inability to save ourselves. Only Christ can save us-this is as clear as day. In our own strength we are doomed to fail. God has a wonderful plan with our lives; we only have to become aware of it, like the sinful woman at the well did. The Lord does not necessary use competent people,,, He equips those He uses. Then this former ignorance becomes a song of jubilation; a song of incredible joy. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! The ignorance of the past makes room for a great discovery.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Little Christmas or Three Kings Day

Matthew 2.pngAfter Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written. “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judea; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. A soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child and his mother Mary, and they worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another way.        Matthew 2:1-12

Today is known as Little Christmas and some Christians also called this day   “Three Kings Day”, since is known that Christmas season last for twelve days beginning on December 25 and ending on January 6.

The magi began their search in unbiblical ways, following messages hidden in an alien faith and wisdom. But their search led them to the God of the Bible. There is a lesson here for us. These Gentiles followed the star, building on the own motions of what it meant. They may have been following their own wisdom, but it was God who put eh star in the sky to attract them. They were Gentiles and they were among the first to recognize the birth of the Messiah. Already, in the birth of Jesus, Matthew sees the dividing walls between us and them, breaking down. What about the star? Was it a supernova? a comet?  We do not know. But identifying the star would not change the faith which Matthew is writing. The star is important, he says, because it is God’s gracious gift. The dream is also about God’s grace. “Going home by another way” has been represented as a language of conversion ad changed lives, and it could mean that. It could also mean simply “to take a different road when you go home.” God is revealed not only in the special revelation of Scripture but in our natural world as well.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Nothing To Fear

Luke 2bAnd there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.” I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sigh to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in  a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angels, praising God and saying”

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what has been told them about this child, and all who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.                                                                     Luke 2:8-20

keld-vision.jpgTry to imagine if you could that you were a shepherd on the night that our Savior was born, you may of been tending the sheep or perhaps having a nap, and then all of a sudden up in the sky was God’s heavenly angels declaring the birth of a Savior. I am sure like many of today’s world all were grip was fear, just as many today have so many things that they are afraid of. Afraid of what tomorrow will bring, afraid to be alone, afraid of death, illness, loosing a job, a love one, too many times our days seem to bring us so much fear, fear of being different, fear of the way someone may treated us or look at us. If we learn to continue to stay in God’s word daily we can read these words as follows: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.                                 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear is something that satan tries to input into our minds and it is not something that comes from God. You are precious in God’s eyes, you are his child and his love for you is unconditional that our minds cannot truly understands how much he loves his children. On this Holy Night, take a moment or many and just close your eyes and imagine you being in Bethlehem and walking to the manger, as you look into this wonderful sight, of God coming down here on earth as an infant, just look deep within the manger to see what love is. “For God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son into this world.      John 3:16christmas-1010749_960_720

Merry Christmas to you My Friends

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

Matthew 1.pngThis is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”) When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lo0rd had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And He gave him the name Jesus.                                                           Matthew 1:18-25) NIV

I wanted to take a moment to consider the faithfulness of Joseph. We hear a lot about Mary, and rightly so. She was, after all, the mother of Jesus, the only person constant in the life of Jesus from the cradle to the grave. But what do we know about Joseph? In all the New Testament he never utters a word. Yet, he’s one of the principle figures in the Christmas drama. And so, let’s take just a moment to give Joseph his due. Tradition has it that Joseph was a simple man of an honorable trade: A carpenter from Nazareth. Sometimes you see Sunday school pictures showing him in a wood shop making furniture. But “carpenter” in Joseph’s day referred to a wide range of trades. Joseph could have just as easily worked with metal or stone, as with wood. The regional capital, Sepphoris, was under construction during this time, and it was within walking distance of Nazareth. It’s possible that Joseph was one of the stone masons there.
In any case, craftsmen worked with strong shoulders and callused hands. They were educated by apprenticeship. Their place was respectable but not on one of the higher rungs of the social ladder. Remember the flap in the synagogue in Nazareth when Jesus preached his first sermon? The elders raised their eyebrows and asked, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon?” (Mark 6:3).Jesus’ father was neither a rabbi nor a scribe nor one of the civic leaders. He had but two qualifications to play a part in the Christmas drama – he was a descendent of David and, for whatever reason, he was God’s choice. In this regard, I like to think that Joseph is someone with whom we can all identify – a common man who dared to be obedient to God’s will for his life.
His place in the Christmas story, of course, is that of Mary’s husband. According to Matthew, Joseph and Mary were “betrothed,” but not yet married. William Barclay explains that there were three steps in a Jewish marriage: The engagement, which was often arranged by the parents through a matchmaker when the boy and girl were children; the betrothal, which was a formal ratification of the marriage-to-be, usually done a year before the couple was married; and the wedding itself, which lasted a whole week, at which time the marriage was consummated. During the betrothal, the couple was legally bound to each other so that, if the man died before the actual wedding took place, the woman was considered to be a widow. They were actually referred to as husband and wife, though they refrained from having sexual relations. And then, in one further act of faithfulness and obedience to God, Joseph publicly named the child. Matthew says simply, “he named him Jesus.” In so doing, he claimed the child as his own and gave him the benefit of a noble ancestry, making him a descendent of the house of David. Because of the faithfulness of Joseph, Jesus would have a father and Joseph would have a place in the drama of God’s salvation.

Grace and Peace to you My Friends

 

 

 

What Is Advent?

10389133_423507684465031_9016953425129766019_nI would like to take this opportunity to share with all of you the meaning of advent. Too many times everyone seems to be so busy with the shopping, baking, presents, parties etc. we simply do not take the time to slow down for the season of Advent, What is advent it is a time four weeks before Christmas that we take the opportunity to invite God into the season before we get to Christmas Day.                                                               The season of Advent, which comes comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.]
During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ. We remember the longing of Jews for a Messiah and our own longing for, and need of, forgiveness, salvation and a new beginning. Even as we look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem, we also look forward anticipating the second coming of Christ as the fulfillment of all that was. So where did the season of Advent come from? Here is an attempt at a partial response — going back to the sacred Scriptures and to the early centuries of the church.

First, recall that the building blocks of Advent — its images, stories, memories, promises, songs, and hopes — are already present in the Bible. The rich images of the prophets Isaiah and Amos are there. The stories of John, Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and John the Baptist are found in the Scriptures. There are Israel’s memories of exile and the hope for a day when God would restore hope, justice, and rulers in the line of David. There you find the songs: Mary‘s song, Zechariah’s song, and the psalms of lament, anguish, and hope. The vision of a new heaven and a new earth is there. Jesus’ call to be alert because we don’t know the day or the hour when the Son of Man will come is there. Paul’s and Peter’s words to believers awaiting the return of the risen Lord (the second coming) are there. All of this was there by the end of the first century. It was only a matter of time until the churches in various places began to find ways to weave these elements into their worship and into the ways they kept time together’s promised by his first coming.

What Is the Advent Wreath?
The Advent wreath is a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. On that wreath, four or five candles are typically arranged. During the season of Advent, one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of the Advent services.

Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
The lighting of an Advent wreath is a custom that began in 16th-century Germany among Lutherans and Catholics. In Western Christianity, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, or the Sunday which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.
Symbolism of the Advent Wreath Candles
Set on the branches of the Advent wreath are four candles: three purple candles and one pink candle. A more modern tradition is to place a white candle in the center of the wreath. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world.
Each week of Advent on Sunday, a particular Advent candle is lit. Catholic tradition states that the four candles, representing the four weeks of Advent, each stand for one thousand years, to total the 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14, NIV). So each week from now through the Sunday before Christmas I will share with you what each candle means and what color that Christians light on that day. You can also purchase your own advent wreath or even make one for yourself. So friends lets not rush this beautiful season of Advent let us journey together to find out what is all the fuse is about during this season, and why God had to send his one and only son Jesus into this world to be able to save his people from their sins.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends